Personally SPEAKING; Professor GERRY McKENNA, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ulster, Responds to Recent Comments about the University's Plan for Future Development

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JUDGED by UK-wide benchmarking exercises, the University of Ulster is one of the success stories of the UK's higher education system.

In the past 18 months, all subjects assessed at the university by the nationwide quality assurance system have been judged to be excellent.

The recently published assessment of research at the University of Ulster awarded us two of the three five-star ratings received by Northern Ireland's universities. These are the gold standard of university research.

In terms of widening access to higher education, almost 40 per cent of the university's students come from the poorer socio-economic groups in our society - one of the finest achievements of any UK university.

And along with just five other universities, we were shortlisted by the Sunday Times for the title of University of the Year.

All of this has been achieved against a background in which the amount of money the university receives per student has declined by some 40 per cent over the past decade. Just think what we could have achieved if our resources had been maintained. Like all successful organisations, the University of Ulster's success has not happened by chance. And we are determined to work pro-actively to further enhance the performance and reputation of the university.

It is against this background that the current review of campus distribution of subjects must be considered. Our aim in undertaking this review is to ensure that, wherever a subject is offered, it is of sufficient scale such that both excellence and financial viability can be assured. This will, of necessity, lead to a certain degree of campus specialisation.

The activities of the university's Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment are being concentrated at the Jordanstown campus. New programmes are being introduced in electronics and software engineering, and in internet and environmental technology. Our leading School of the Built Environment is also introducing a new degree in architecture.

Also at the Jordanstown campus, our Faculty of Business and Management is extending its range of undergraduate programmes to include new degree courses in human resource management and in marketing. Similarly, the Faculty of Social Science is expanding to include programmes in criminology, politics, and health and social policy. …